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Growth, Goals Realized, and Charting the Future: Reflections on 2018

By Russ Starke on December 20, 2018

Once a week, when I’m at home dragging the garbage cans to the curb, I think to myself, “Whoa… it feels like I was just doing this yesterday… and here we are again… *SNAP*… another week.” This always gives me a little pang of existential angst, to be honest. This time of year, when Suzanne asks, “Hey, are you gonna do a traditional year-end post?”, it happens on a grander scale.

Clockwise from top: The Family Picnic at Carl‘s house, Q3 Uncle B. Award winner Christine, our silver medal at the Dragon Boat race (!), our team at Service Design Week in Boston, and Thinkers thinkin’ over a lunch ‘n’ learn in Conshy.

There are rituals that are part of the Think Company experience that hit me in a similar and familiar way every time a year comes to a close, but this year feels a little more unique and special—probably because of the number of things that we dreamt about when the company was started (and continuously for the better part of the last 12 years) that… *SNAP*… became reality this year.

We grew to be over 100 people in early June (currently at 112). We were named a Small Giant by Forbes. We were listed as one of the Top UX Designers in the U.S. and Top Global Creative and Design Agencies by Clutch. We landed on the Inc. 5000 list for the 5th consecutive year (6th overall). We established a physical presence in Denver. We were named a Top Workplace by Philly.com for the 3rd year in a row. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and each one of these things should be followed by an army of blissed-out emoji and exclamation points, but for the sake of brevity I’m typing it with periods like I’m not all that fazed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Thinkers are more and more present in the community—local and otherwise—with more awards and recognition, board/committee appointments, professional groups founded, publications, and speaking engagements than you can shake a stick at. We remain proudly, defiantly independent and bootstrapped—beholden to nobody other than our clients and ourselves—and we overshot our revenue target by over 20%. We were intentional and resolute on the path to where we are today, so none of this was an accident or a surprise, per se, but still—I’m typing this coming from a place of quiet, reflective awe.

And so the question is… what’s next? Well, of course we’re always collecting data, (re)envisioning the future, plotting a course to make it a reality, and continuously course-correcting as we learn more. Smart, sustainable, organic growth—fully aligned with our core values—remains our charter. 2019 will be a year of galvanizing all that we’ve achieved in 2018 and being disciplined in all aspects of the business to ensure we can continue along this journey wherever it may lead us—having the foundation and infrastructure ready to support us as we do, and the Thinkers on board to make it happen.

Finally, the operative word in all I’ve written here is… “we.” We did this. Our clients, our families and friends, and most importantly, each and every card carryin’ Thinker. This is our accomplishment to savor right now, and this is our example to point to for how great things can be achieved by a group of folks that choose to embrace each other’s differing backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, and operate with humility, compassion, and empathy. We’re not done, we’re not perfect, and we can (and will) always do better—but remaining open to that and honest in the pursuit is the key.

To paraphrase Cervantes, “Sanity may be madness, but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.” The clock keeps ticking. Let’s keep trying to make a difference, even if just in our tiny little corners of the world with those we know and love, and in the work we’re fortunate enough to get to do. It all matters, my friends.

All the best to you and yours this holiday season and in 2019.

*SNAP*